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“Submission, self-denial, diligent work . . .”
Bleak House, Charles Dickens

We are waiting for the moolah,
kneeling in reverent postures, in compliance
with village regulations and strict adherence
to Code, with constant entreaties & supplications,
beseeching The All-Powerful for their swift reply
to the Covenant— the sand anointed by rain,
the stone cemented by light.

Our display of fervent labor is waning—splitting
rose granite on heaped shards,
packed gravel and spilled concrete:
footings poured and billed, nothing to height,
disgraced mortar over rusted angle irons—
atoning for the unplumbed, the rejected rubble.

In contrition for the splays, the efflorescent faces
and discoloration, the variations in capstones,
we go on . . . go on, unworthy
penitents bowing and disconsolate,
knowing the wages of betrayal
and the ancient punishments.

Waiting, waiting for the supreme pages,
celestial tapestries, the renting of an edge
through the illuminated land—
the ecclesiastical dash and signature in our hands,
final bestowal and our submission.

Lauds, Vespers, Compline, and still Nones, nothing:
no banded altars of pressed green,
Elysian reward in all denominations,
your remuneration and countenance,
no pale seal of your distracted recognition.

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